Remodeling your kitchen can be a fantastic improvement to your home, increasing its resale value and adding needed additions to your cooking space. However, the quality of your remodel will entirely depend on the craftwork of your contractor. An unskilled contractor can result in damaged appliances, wasted funds, and potential legal fees in the case of accidents. Because of these risks, choosing the right contractor is critical.

To help you find the best contractor for your kitchen, we’ve compiled a list of 20 questions to ask before hiring them.

Are You Licensed, and Can I See Your License Number?

One of the first things you should ask a contractor is if they are licensed. If a contractor is licensed, they have passed the required tests or exams and met proper industry standards to be considered professionals in their field. Furthermore, by asking for a license number, you can check to see if your contractor’s license is in good standing and up-to-date. The department which oversees licensing varies from state to state, but you can usually check your contractor’s license number through your state’s Department of Commerce, Department of Consumer Affairs, or your state licensing board. 

Are You Insured and Bonded? 

Any professional contractor will carry several kinds of insurance to cover their work, employees, and jobsite. When speaking to your contractor, ensure that they carry workers’ compensation insurance, general liability insurance, automobile insurance, and are bonded. These policies are the bare minimum, covering you and the contractor if an accident occurs, public property is damaged, private property is damaged, or workers are injured. If your contractor doesn’t carry these insurances, you could be held responsible for damages in the event of a mishap. 

What Is Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) Score, and Are You Accredited?

If you cannot find a BBB profile and score, you should ask them if they have one. Most professional contractors have a BBB profile and don’t shy away from public reviews or ratings. You should also ask your contractor about any fines, complaints, or other issues on their BBB page. 

Do You Have a Showroom I Can View? 

Taking a look at a contractor’s work is essential. It allows you to see what your kitchen will look like when the job is said and done and gives you a first-hand example of your contractor’s skill level. When speaking to a contractor, be sure to inquire about seeing their work. While not all contractors have physical showrooms, many maintain an online catalog of photos and examples of previous works. These online showrooms aren’t as good as seeing work in person, but they can still give you an idea of the quality of work and your contractor’s work history. 

Have You Ever Tackled Projects Like This One Before? 

Often, kitchen remodels will require unique skill sets depending on the job’s specifics. Unfortunately, not all contractors will have experience in these specialized tasks. Not every contractor has experience in recoating countertops, for example, and may have difficulty taking the job. It is always a good idea to go over the specifics of your remodel before hiring a contractor and asking if they have experience in all aspects of the project.

What Kind of Contract Do You Use? 

When signing up with a contractor, they will typically provide you with a rough estimate in the form of a quote detailing the project’s cost. During this, they go over the job’s ins and outs, explaining the quote’s different elements. They will then present you with a contract that, upon signing, will finalize the deal. These contracts come in several varieties, usually differentiated by payment schedule, job size, and complexity. When reviewing your quote and estimate, you should always ask what kind of contract they use and have them describe it in detail. This way, you can better understand what you’re signing and get an idea of their preferred payment scheduling. 

Do You Use Subcontractors, and Are They Vetted? 

Contracting teams don’t always solely rely on in-house employees to get the job done. Frequently, they will hire subcontractors to either fill out a team or cover a particular skill set their team lacks. If their team doesn’t have an electrician or floor specialist, they will hire a nearby subcontractor to come and do the work for them. Subcontracting specific job elements is common, but you should always ask if their subcontractors are vetted, background checked, and, most importantly, covered on their insurance policy. 

What Is Your Deposit Rate? 

Deposits and down payments are industry standards in contracting and construction work. You can expect to pay between 5-25% of the bill’s estimated total for a deposit. However, some less than reputable contractors will charge much higher rates. Because of this, you should always ask about deposit rates before signing any contract. 

What Local or National Organizations Are You Affiliated With?

Professional contractors can often work alongside or be members of local or national organizations associated with their trade. These organizations provide them with news, resources, training, access to conferences, and the ability to get in contact with their peers. Finding a contractor affiliated with one of these organizations is an excellent sign of professionalism and connection to the broader industry community. The best organization your contractor can be affiliated with for kitchen remodeling is the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

How Many Projects Do You Have at the Moment? What Is the Wait Time for the Project To Start?

Remodeling teams and contractors may have long wait lists depending on your location, the current market, and the season. Asking about project wait time not only fills you in on how long it will take for them to start your project but also gives you an idea of that contractor’s popularity. Knowing your wait time also gives you an idea of how long you have to prepare your home before the project begins. 

How Long Will the Project Take? 

Any contractor worth their salt will be able to give you a detailed project breakdown. By asking them about the expected length of time for your project, you can get a good idea of how long your kitchen will be unavailable. Be wary of any contractor unwilling or unable to give definitive time frames on elements of a project or of contractors promising “too good to be true” time frames. 

What Does Your Process and Work Schedule Look Like? 

This question helps tremendously with organizing your day around the remodel. During the construction process, trade professionals will come into and out of your home, taking up space and moving around. When working, they may also need to cordon off home sections to make room for ventilation units, power generators, or other obtrusive tools. Furthermore, they may need to employ chemicals that can be irritating to be around. You will want to steer clear of the areas of your home that contractors will be in while they work, so getting an idea of their schedule is a must. 

Will My Kitchen Be Available During the Renovation?

Depending on your remodel’s size, scope, and details, your kitchen may be out of commission for a portion of the renovation. To make accommodations and arrangements, you should ask how long your kitchen will be unusable before construction begins. The last thing you want is to have your kitchen unavailable for half a month with no backup plans for meals or cooking. 

Will There Be Any Parts of My Kitchen Unavailable Post Renovation, and if So, How Long? 

Post remodel downtime is a less common problem but can still happen depending on the type of work being done. Specifically, resurfacing countertops, floors, and walls can require several days to over a week of downtime for the materials to dry completely. Using your kitchen during this time can damage these surfaces and set you further back for repairs. Always ask how long after the renovation is complete you will have to wait before using your kitchen; otherwise, you might wind up damaging something. 

What Challenges or Problems Do You Anticipate? 

This is a question contractors hear at the beginning of almost every project and for a good reason. Every job site is different and presents unique challenges contractors have to work around. For kitchens, things like space limitations, ventilation requirements, and appliances can all act as difficult obstacles. By asking about these problems early, you can help mitigate or reduce them as much as possible. Simple steps like removing or disconnecting an appliance can make a safer work environment for professionals and reduce the risk of costly and time-consuming accidents. 

Do You Provide a Written Warranty?

Depending on the state, contractors may be required to supply a warranty for constructed objects. Depending on the contractor, they may also offer additional warranties for appliances, materials, and other remodel elements. It’s always a good idea to ask what warranties they are required to supply, what those warranties specifically cover, and if they have any additional warranty plans. 

What Are Your Payment Schedule Options? 

Depending on your project’s size and time frame, you may be required to pay portions of your bill throughout the project’s completion. This process is called a payment schedule, and it is a common practice in larger projects or projects divided into sections or phases. However, no reputable contractor will require you to pay upfront for the entirety of a project or even the majority of a project. Projects should be paid upon reasonable completion of the job or portions of the job. When reviewing your contract, you should always discuss their preferred payment schedule and available financing options. 

How Do I Communicate With You? 

Renovations and remodels take a long time, and you may not see the same faces working in your kitchen every day. If something happens, such as an accident, scheduling conflict, or a construction error, you will want to get ahold of the remodel’s project manager or lead contractor. Most project managers don’t mind giving out their work phone numbers to clients, while others have an office you will need to call. In either case, you will need to make sure you can get the appropriate contact information ahead of time. 

What Safety Measures Do You Utilize? 

Construction and remodeling can be difficult processes. Between caustic chemicals, hazardous gases, and all manner of high-powered tools, contractors and their crew must be careful every step of the way. Furthermore, specific aspects of the process may be a risk to small children or pets and will require additional special care. You should always ask about the relative safety of the project, what safety measures your contractor is taking, and what, if anything, you need to do to ensure the project goes as smoothly. 

Can You Provide Local References? 

Asking for references is standard in construction. Between scammers and untrained or unlicensed small-scale outfits, there is sadly no shortage of poor choices for your next project. Reputable contractors understand this and are, more often than not, more than happy to provide references to back up their reputation and quality of work. Furthermore, you can also ask for recommendations from trustworthy contractors for future projects, making the selection process quicker and easier. 

Final Thoughts

When you decide to go through with a kitchen renovation, you place a great deal of trust in the workers and contractors you hire. They will work alongside you and your family for weeks and will be the deciding factor in your kitchen’s future. Entrusting the designs and functionality of your home can be difficult. Still, by asking detailed questions and doing your research beforehand, you can help ensure a smooth project and a fantastic new look for your kitchen. 

Editorial Contributors
Sam Wasson

Sam Wasson

Staff Writer

Sam Wasson graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Film and Media Arts with an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Sam brings over four years of content writing and media production experience to the Today’s Homeowner content team. He specializes in the pest control, landscaping, and moving categories. Sam aims to answer homeowners’ difficult questions by providing well-researched, accurate, transparent, and entertaining content to Today’s Homeowner readers.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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